“True self-care is not salt baths and chocolate cake, it is making the choice to build a life you don’t need to regularly escape from.”
When I read these words in a post by Brianna Wiest they resonated so loudly they nearly jumped off the page! It took me a while to digest why, but then I read further into the article and realised that I myself – like many of the people (men and women) that I’ve coached – have been through this: the realisation that you don’t really like the life you have built. While the article is in essence about self-care and wellness, it’s also about goal-setting and life choices.
Is your ladder leaning against the right wall?
In the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People (a classic 1980’s leadership and self-help book that I still love), Steven Covey talks about ensuring your ladder is leaning against the right wall before you begin to climb it. I spent many years (decades in fact) climbing a ladder only to realise when I was nearing the top that I wasn’t just on the wrong ladder … or in the wrong room … I was in the wrong damn building!
How exactly does that happen? In my case it was about being an achiever. A prover. Someone who was always so focussed on the next goal that I didn’t stop along the way to check-in with myself and consider whether I was satisfied by the goals I was achieving, or think about the legacy I wanted to leave.
Can achievement be addictive? Yes!
It feels good to tick boxes and/or cross things off a list– Simon Sinek explains in Why Leaders Eat Last that the rush of dopamine we get when we reach a goal is addictive. It’s one of the things that motivates us, but you can become addicted to the dopamine rush and then reaching the next goal is all that becomes important – we are so busy trying to accomplish things and make progress that we don’t stop to look up.
It seems like the simplest thing in the world to take time to continually reflect on what you really want and whether you’re living that life, but how many of us just keep going because it makes us feel safe if we’re succeeding at the thing we’re doing?
Are you doing what you want, or what you think you should be doing…
Sometimes even when success looks good, it doesn’t make us feel good. Those feelings are a good indication it’s time to think about whether you’re doing what you really want to be doing with your life, or what you think you should be doing?
Are you living a life that makes you feel good? If not, it might be time to pause and think about creating a life you don’t need to escape from.